Since I became a sports fanatic all those years ago I've come across many sporting rivalries and the stories in which they produce. I've also been involved in plenty myself. The passion and excitement in which a game between two rival associations is not witnessed anywhere else in the world, unless your a carny fighting for turf at the Easter Show.
I have grown up as a Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs fan who went to High School at Marist College Kogarah. I was a Doggies fan at a school in the heart of the St George area. During my high school years I was certainly outnumbered. There were a bunch of us that flew the Blue and White flag and we did it well. The Dogs had a lot of success against the Dragons in those years which helped us get through our time at Kogarah. It was a good feeling walking through the school gates when the Dogs had a big win against the Dragons and not so good when we got rolled. Rivalries bring out so much tension and fun at the same time. The banter that goes on before and after the match is brilliant but when the match is on, friendships are put on hold.
The Dogs went through a real rough patch over the last four years against the Dragons and we have copped it. Watching the Dragons finally win a premiership was a sickening feeling, something I hope I'll never have to do again. I think I'm still listening to my mother gloat about it. The one thing that you can't say to a rival fan after a loss is that it doesn't matter. I know it matters, it's mattered the last 4 years and it burns inside until you get that revenge back!
Over every sport there are 100's of rivalries and it makes it all that more exciting. When the draw comes out at the start of the season you scan through and look out for the games in which you need to take work off for, or tell the Mrs you will be out for the night with the boys.
It starts at an early age. When I played basketball for NSW Metro at the National Titles I was subject to my first real rivalry. I heard many stories about Victoria Metro and how much it means to beat them. They were like the Manly Sea Eagles of the NRL, no-one liked them and everyone wanted to smash them. Why was that you may ask? They were the cream of the crop, Victoria was the basketball state and produced the best basketballers in our nation. I'll never forget we played them in the final of the Under 18's Nationals. They had Brad Robbins and Tom Burns, we had Steve Markovic. However we had the whole crowd on our side. There may have been 1500-2000 people there and every single one of them, apart from family and friends of the Victorians, were cheering for the NSW boys. We even had the VIC Country boys on our side. They beat us in the end. It's a rivalry that has existed for many years and continues to do so.
I was also involved in the Sydney Kings v West Sydney Razorbacks rivalry. A sold out Grand Final series showed how much this rivalry put basketball back on the map in NSW for those couple of years. The papers were filled with banter where journalists had a field day eating up Brian Goorjian's passion and Geordie McLeod's strategical prowess. It was a cinderella story for the NBL as the series went to 5 games and 10000 people filled the Sydney Entertainment Centre for Game 5. How it ended will also be remembered forever. Ebi Ere taking the game over in the final quarter after we looked dead and buried. How much it meant to beat them and keep the reigns in the Harbour region was reflected in the celebrations. Walking out to 1000's of people getting blind and celebrating was something I'll never forget.
These are some of my favourite rivalries, I'll let you tell me some of yours!